When she was younger, Julia Foland wanted to learn another language.
“I tried taking Spanish in school and I tried to self-study French. However, these languages didn’t seem to match with me very well, and I couldn’t really find passion in studying them,” she said. “A close friend of mine took Korean classes when she attended college, and hearing her stories about studying Korean was the main motivation for me to start.”
“When I visited the campus, I was so impressed by the facilities and got a really good feeling from the school’s atmosphere,” she said. “The flexibility in scheduling and program selection, as well as the offering of the Korean language program, also attracted me.”
Her first semester at COD coincided with the resumption of in-person classes following the pandemic. This helped Foland get back into academic life. Unsure of a major, she found understanding faculty focused on student success and gained her confidence in her studies.
Foland finally connected with another language when she began studying Korean. In fact, she enjoyed it so much that she decided to enter the Midwest Korean Speech Contest, encouraged by her instructor, Miran Lee.
“I wanted to challenge myself and work to improve my Korean skills through preparing for the contest,” she said. “At first, I thought that I was not good enough, but I realized even if I failed, I would still gain something from the experience. Thanks to my continuous preparation, by the day of the contest I had gained so much confidence that I knew that I would do my best. I couldn’t believe it when they announced me as the winner. I felt as if all my efforts leading up to that point had paid off.”
The language programs at COD are a great way to begin your journey and get acquainted with your language of choice.
Foland received a scholarship to attend the Sungkyunkwan University Korean Language Center in Seoul, South Korea. She attended classes taught entirely in Korean found the intensive study a life-changing experience and the perfect opportunity to improve her skills.
“I met so many people from around the world and managed to learn so much, not only about Korea and the Korean language but about myself as well,” she said. “The subject of my speech for the Midwest Korean Speech Contest was about the power of traveling and how one can learn so much from seeing other people’s cultures and countries. A lot of people may be afraid to interact with those of other countries simply because of cultural differences. While differences exist, I realized that everyone is fundamentally very similar.
“In my class I was the only Western student, and my classmates were from places like China, Japan, Russia, Taiwan and Malaysia. It was so awesome to learn more about Korea and Korean culture as well as their countries' cultures. Most of the friends I made can’t speak English, so we had to communicate only through Korean. I feel like this was a huge reason my Korean skills improved, as well as my communication skills in general. I think I’ve even improved in expressing myself in English. I’ve gained a lot more confidence when interacting with others and I realized how much I like harmonizing with people. I also realized how much interest I have in people who are different from me, because there’s truly so much to learn from them. I’d love to study in Korea again one day and reunite with my friends overseas.”
Shortly after returning from Korea, Foland began preparations to take the TOPIK (Test Of Proficiency In Korean) exam and passed at the highest level, including full points on the listening portion. The results provided additional motivation to improve her Korean skills.
Unsure of a major, Foland is completing her Associate in Arts degree while searching for her career goal.
“I want to find something that suits me well and allows me to use the skills that I am best at,” she said. “I feel that I am a very analytical and detailed individual, and these attributes may have helped me with learning Korean. If I can use Korean in my career, that would be a bonus.”
For anyone interested in studying languages, Foland said do not hesitate.
“The language programs at COD are a great way to begin your journey and get acquainted with your language of choice,” she said. “I’m sure all of the language instructors would be willing to give tips and resources to those who want to further their language study beyond the COD programs after completion. Plus, I know COD has study abroad programs, and doing one of these programs would be incredibly beneficial.
“Learning another language also helps you appreciate the efforts of ESL students. Having to live in another country and communicate only in my second language really helped me fully understand the efforts of those who do the same when coming to America. As the U.S. continues to become a more diverse country, it would be beneficial for all of us, especially those who only speak English, to learn another language.”